Complex biological processes such as embryogenesis require precise coordination of cell differentiation programs across both space and time. Using protein-fusion fluorescent reporters and four-dimensional live imaging, we present a protein expression atlas of transcription factors (TFs) mapped onto developmental cell lineages during Caenorhabditis elegans embryogenesis, at single-cell resolution. This atlas reveals a spatiotemporal combinatorial code of TF expression, and a cascade of lineage-specific, tissue-specific and time-specific TFs that specify developmental states. The atlas uncovers regulators of embryogenesis, including an unexpected role of a skin specifier in neurogenesis and the critical function of an uncharacterized TF in convergent muscle differentiation. At the systems level, the atlas provides an opportunity to model cell state-fate relationships, revealing a lineage-dependent state diversity within functionally related cells and a winding trajectory of developmental state progression. Collectively, this single-cell protein atlas represents a valuable resource for elucidating metazoan embryogenesis at the molecular and systems levels.